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A New Way To Produce Hydrogen

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the doctor-clark-i-presume dept.

Power 204

Iddo Genuth writes "Scientists at Pennsylvania State University and Virginia Commonwealth University are producing hydrogen by exposing clusters of aluminum atoms to water. Rather than relying on the electronic properties of the aluminum, this new process depends on the geometric distribution of atoms within the clusters. It requires the presence of 'Lewis acids' and 'Lewis bases' in those atoms (water can act as either). Unlike most hydrogen production processes, this method can be used at room temperature and doesn't require the application of heat or electricity to work. The researchers experimented with a variety of different aluminum cluster patterns, discovering three that result in hydrogen production."

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204 comments

Al poduction consumes lots of energy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27028607)

Interesting scientifically but hardly practical for energy systems. Aluminium requires huge amounts of energy to produce, to the point where is is essentially "frozen electricity". Given that their end result is aluminium oxide, aren't they just recovering some of the energy that into refining?

Re:Al poduction consumes lots of energy (3, Insightful)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028655)

Sounds more like they've basically just found something vaguely useful to do with waste aluminum.

Re:Al poduction consumes lots of energy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27028689)

What, other than recycle it?

Re:Al poduction consumes lots of energy (2, Interesting)

eiapoce (1049910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028693)

Aluminium is 100% recyclable it would be a 200% waste. 100% because you waste the energy needed for production and another 100$ because you need to separate it from other elements and then refine it.

Re:Al poduction consumes lots of energy (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028779)

uh nice grip on maths you have there. 200% waste? so if i throw out a can it's volume increases?

it isn't 100% recyclable either, it still needs to be blended with some fresh material. plus there is a waste factor along the way.

Re:Al poduction consumes lots of energy (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27029389)

Uh nice grip on grammar you have. So if you write a possessive pronoun you put an apostrophe in it?

Re:Al poduction consumes lots of energy (1)

eiapoce (1049910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029687)

I was referring to ENERGY waste and it is a rought estimate.

Please give me 1000$ and I will do a research on the topic and come with more accurate figures :)

Sneaky advertising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27029739)

Another Slashdot Advertisement?

I think there should be a statement at the end of all articles like this that says whether or not someone at Slashdot was paid to run the story.

Re:Al poduction consumes lots of energy (4, Insightful)

ebuck (585470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029779)

For all practical purposes, there is no waste aluminium.

Aluminium ore is plentiful but the costs to refine the ore into pure metal are very high. The technique uses tons of electricity to reverse the natural oxidation process. If you have post-consumer aluminium to start with, you can recover about 85% of the metal at a much lower energy cost. The lower energy cost is significant since it comprises 20% to 40% of the cost of production.

It sounds like these gentleman have discovered a faster way to get aluminium metal to oxidise to it's lower energy states with Hydrogen as a useful by-product. I'm curious how this would work past the surface area of an aluminium block. Aluminium oxide is incredibly durable, somewhat brittle, and rather impervious to oxygen. With a combination like that, the oxide protects the inner aluminium metal from further oxidation. I'll wager that's why their technique requires "small clusters" of atoms.

This sounds interesting as a use-once hydrogen battery, but it's not solving any global scale energy needs. The cost to produce aluminium metal is just too high. Still, it has a number of niche areas where it could be very useful. Aluminium could be seen as a high density battery for hydrogen powered fuel cells. It's relatively light, and could be incorporated into electrical generation systems for space vehicles.

Re:Al poduction consumes lots of energy (1)

Bloater (12932) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028855)

Depends how easily that aluminium oxide can be converted back to aluminium - if it is easy enough then this is a better cycle than electrolysis and might finally make hydrogen a sensible alternative energy storage medium than oil.

so we'll have to wait and see.

Re:Al poduction consumes lots of energy (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029175)

It don't take a genius to understand that if aluminium within the water picks up the oxygen spontaneously the reacting generates energy, and if you want to remove that oxygen you'll have to consume energy. So at best you have got as much energy from creating the aluminiumoxide and water from the hydrogen gas that you put in to make the aluminium.

But then you won't have a 1:1 efficiency, sure, I've heard electrolysis suck TO.

I have no idea about efficiency rates, maybe you get much more energy from letting hydrogen gas react with oxygen than the actual production of the hydrogen gas let off.

Re:Al poduction consumes lots of energy (3, Funny)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029891)

I think what you meant to say was "Lisa, in this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!"

Re:Al poduction consumes lots of energy (4, Interesting)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028935)

I probably shouldn't expect this, but RTFA!
They're not producing Al2O3, they're producing something similar to AL(OH)3. I say similar because they're using clusters of Al, not atoms/ions. It seems to me that simply adding a strong acid would revert these back to AL(H2O)3, resulting in the evolution of more H2, but I'm sure that's been considered already...

Re:Al poduction consumes lots of energy (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27029261)

If you add a strong acid to Al(H0)3, your H+ will bond to HO- to give water. I don't know why you think H2 will be produced. That's not what happens when you add acids and bases.

Re:Al poduction consumes lots of energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27029985)

Forgive me, of course I meant OH- where I've said H0 (wtf) and HO-.

Re:Al poduction consumes lots of energy (3, Informative)

jcorno (889560) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029777)

They're not producing Al2O3, they're producing something similar to AL(OH)3. I say similar because they're using clusters of Al, not atoms/ions. It seems to me that simply adding a strong acid would revert these back to AL(H2O)3, resulting in the evolution of more H2, but I'm sure that's been considered already...

Aluminum hydroxide is just hyrated aluminum oxide (alumina + water). So they are producing Al2O3. And making acids isn't free, either; that chemical energy has to come from somewhere.

Also, the reaction of acids with hydroxides doesn't produce hydrogen. It produces water and salts.

Re:Al poduction consumes lots of energy (2, Funny)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029573)

The huge amounts of energy shouldnt be a problem, we could use hydrogen - its nice and clean.

Theyve just found a new way to make it. Using aluminum

Re:Al poduction consumes lots of energy (0, Redundant)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029903)

Lisa, in this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!

Still not..... (2, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028611)

The problem is the aluminum can't be used over and over again, a problem which the scientists are working to solve.

Still not economically viable, but hopefully continued research in hydrogen will replace the hype about plant based ethanol, which is not really a solution (because we need to eat corn, etc).

Re:Still not..... (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028633)

Pretty pointless - separating the aluminum from the oxygen will require the same amount of energy you got from the hydrogen.

Re:Still not..... (5, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028705)

Pretty pointless - separating the aluminum from the oxygen will require the same amount of energy you got from the hydrogen.

Not so. We'll just ship it to China, and they'll do it for a quarter of the energy that an American worker would charge.

[Suggested moderation: It's Funny Because Someone Will IPO a Company Based on This Premise and kdawson Will Run The Story For Them]

Being fair (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028845)

You mean a quarter of the costs. For the same amount, the energy usage will actually go up (extreme inefficiency in China) as will the pollution (extremely dirty coal with little to no scrubbers). The real irony would be that moving to hydrogen is suppose to clean up the air, but schemes like this would actually increase it significantly.

Yes, I know that you meant to be funny, yet, somebody will be thinking of the same thing. Oddly enough as a child, I use to generate hydrogen doing this "NEW" way. We got it from a 50's book on how to create a floating balloon.

Re:Being fair (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028969)

That 50's book would have required you to add caustic soda (old fashioned drain cleaner). This is indeed a NEW method that relies on a specific structure built with aluminium atoms alone, I agree it's a long, long, way from a clean and commercially usefull method but that is besides the point.

Re:Still not..... (1)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028851)

Pretty pointless - separating the aluminum from the oxygen will require the same amount of energy you got from the hydrogen.

All energy is not the same. Converting from a form of plentiful but difficult to use energy to something line electricity is what hydroelectric generators do.

So, if hydrogen can be produced easily from reaction 'A' and the components can be recovered and reused with reaction 'B' and reaction 'B' uses a plentiful, renewable, and clean energy, then it is a win.

Re:Still not..... (1)

renoX (11677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028937)

You should have quoted the parent: for a moment I believed that you mistook energy production (ethanol) with energy distribution (H2 or electricity) as the GP did.

Re:Still not..... (4, Insightful)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029001)

Hey, it doesn't say "A New Way To Produce Hydrogen For Free!"

I mean, I don't understand the reactions to this article. They just found out aluminum can be attacked by water via a sequence of Lewis acid-base reactions that result in a standard substitution reaction, depending on the geometry of the aluminum cluster.

It's a very interesting form of corrosion and people are acting like this is supposed to be a perpetual motion machine.

Re:Still not..... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27030801)

It's a very interesting form of corrosion and people are acting like this is supposed to be a perpetual motion machine.

If you've ever worked around boats, you'd realize that corrosion is a form of perpetual motion. The boat owner is perpetually trying to replace / repair / clean the damned thing.

At least, it always seems like that to me (who is about to go to the marina to see what broke on the boat since the last time I was at the marina).

Re:Still not..... (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029249)

In an ideal scenario, you could have an aluminum reactor tank all set up to dissociate water and release hydrogen gas - pour in the water, get the hydrogen for use in an IC engine, turbine, or whatever, and when the reactor tank is too oxidized to be useful, swap it out for another, and recycle the first one.

If the recycling process is highly efficient and environmentally friendly, this might make sense for a portable clean fuel solution.

Some big ifs in there... still not a bad thing to spend research dollars on.

Re:Still not..... (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029917)

Unless there is a ready supply of refined Aluminium, recycling the reactor elements will consumer more energy than it can generate. Lisa, in this house we obey... bah that's the third time I've made that joke in this thread.

Re:Still not..... (2, Interesting)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029343)

Hydrogen's not an energy source. It's an energy storage medium. If this eventually develops into a convenient method for producing it, it may be worth something in the long run.

Re:Still not..... (5, Funny)

jareds (100340) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028649)

The problem is the aluminum can't be used over and over again, a problem which the scientists are working to solve.

"In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!"

[I read the article, I know it says the same thing -- I'm criticizing it too.]

Re:Still not..... (0)

eiapoce (1049910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028701)

aluminum can't be used over and over again

I've been told differently. A citation maybe?

Re:Still not..... (2, Informative)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029939)

No need. The reaction results in the aluminium being reverted to aluminium ore, otherwise known as bauxite. Turning it back into aluminium is the same as refining newly mined aluminium ore.

Aluminium can be recycled if it is not re-oxidized, but that is not the case here.

Recycling aluminum (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028833)

The problem is the aluminum can't be used over and over again

[Citation Needed]. If you are thinking of the waste that appears when melting any metal, which is called "dross" in the industry, there are ways to handle it [google.com]

hopefully continued research in hydrogen will replace the hype about plant based ethanol, which is not really a solution

On the contrary, ethanol as a fuel is not only a solution, it's a mature technology [wikipedia.org]. My first 100% ethanol-burning car was a Brazilian 1983 Chevette, which I bought used in 1985. The last time gasoline was sold in Brazil without at least 10% of ethanol was in 1976 [wikipedia.org]

Hydrogen as a fuel is, at this moment, wishfull thinking. The stage of hydrogen research today is less advanced than ethanol as a fuel was in Brazil in 1974. And there's much more to research. Any gasoline engine will run, with reduced performance, on ethanol. Tuning a car to run on ethanol is a relatively simple task.

And, much more important, the delivery system is there. Any service station that sells gasoline or diesel has all it needs to sell ethanol. Trucks and pipelines are the same. To convert a whole country to ethanol, as was done in Brazil in the late 1970s, is simple.

Now try doing that with hydrogen. Build a new fleet of tanker trucks, a whole new network of pipelines covering the whole country. Develop and build the tanks to hold the fuel in each car. Do the safety checks. Develop, test, and certify the systems that will guarantee a car will still be safe, even after crashing.

To build a hydrogen-based society is not just finding some magical way to produce hydrogen.

Re:Recycling aluminum (1)

Markspark (969445) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028877)

You do have a point about the infrastructure needs that rise with new energy carriers such as biogas or hydrogen, but solid oxide fuel cells can run on hydrocarbons or hydrogen, and thereby is a viable option for using biogas as a intermediary carrier, and later shifting to hydrogen if the technology gets advanced enough.

Re:Recycling aluminum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27029427)

Mangu:

Your statements are totally untrue and you are perpetuating untruths by continuing to insist on them.

First of all there is not such thing as 100% ethanol vehicle. It needs to be "cut" with something. That something is gasoline.

Brazil is not 100% ethanol. The entire country is not converted. More like 50%.

Ethanol has caused the price of corn to double in South American countries from one cent to two cents causing riots and you can't burn a food crop that you have to use to feed people.

There's not enough arable land to run the world on ethanol.

There are more hydrogen powered vehicles on the road today than say, electric vehicles.

They can go farther, than electric and even ethanol vehicles depending on the size of tanks you are talking about, from 260 to 500 miles for Toyota's new bid.

They have been testing hydrogen vehicles since, in GM's case, 1953, and the first internal combustion engine ran on hydrogen gas and oxygen in 1807.

BMW has a liquid hydrogen 7 Series that can burn pure hydrogen or gasoline in the same engine.

There are over sixty stations in North America and hundreds more are in the planning stages.

So this is not wishful thinking.

The only place to get ethanol now is in the Corn belt and it's just as much as gasoline.

NASA's say's they can make hydrogen in quantity for 75 cents a kilogram.

There is enough hydrogen produced in the US right now to power 26 MILLION cars.

One large sanitation / waste reclamation facility can produce enough hydrogen from the methane 'runoff' to power all the vehicles in the US.

You can make hydrogen in your own home, similar to they way you can fill up your CNG car in your own home. The point being, hydrogen is abundant corn and sugar are not.

There is NO WAY to get to 80% below 1990 CO2 emissions by 2050 than hydrogen.

Recent studies show that producing ethanol is a wash when you take the entire process into consideration. You're not saving on CO2 or other greenhouse gas emissions.

We changed gasoline stations when we had to get rid of MTBEs, we can had a liquid hydrogen station at every pump.

GM and Shell Hydrogen did a study and 40 stations would cover 70% of the populous between San Fran, LA, Las Vegas and San Diego.

The safety checks have been done by all the major auto manufacturers, they all have hydrogen cars. They don't all have ethanol cars. You get more bang for your buck with gaseous or liquid hydrogen than you do with ethanol so you can go farther with less volume.

Hydrogen in many respects is safer than gasoline because when it leaks it wants to go up - very fast. It drains from a tank before you know what happened.

Those tanks are tested with armor piercing bullets. They are cheaper every day to produce.

Everyone is in on the act of testing and certifying including US Dept. of Agriculture which is responsible for the purity and hydrogen as well as you gasoline.

Everyone has been testing durability for years.

Hydrogen is where we want to be. It's not CNG. It's not ethanol.

The chicken and egg situation is essentially gone.

We have the vehicles. The auto manufacturers want to build them. We have no stations.

There's no way to start to get to economies of scale when you are hand building these things.

They need the stations to being to ramp up production.

Lastly, I have to reiterate, there are a multitude of ways to produce hydrogen.

It's the most abundant element in the universe.

Right now we need the most cost effective way.

I look forward to your thoughts on this.

Re:Recycling aluminum (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029729)

Mangu:

Your statements are totally untrue and you are perpetuating untruths by continuing to insist on them.

That's you buddy.

First of all there is not such thing as 100% ethanol vehicle. It needs to be "cut" with something. That something is gasoline.

Yeah, like 10%. And you can cut it with other stuff, it's just gasoline is the easiest thing.

Brazil is not 100% ethanol. The entire country is not converted. More like 50%

.

Only because of old cars and only because in some places gasoline is cheaper.

Ethanol has caused the price of corn to double in South American countries from one cent to two cents causing riots and you can't burn a food crop that you have to use to feed people.

That's why Brazil does it with sugar cane. Riots?!? [Citation Needed]

There's not enough arable land to run the world on ethanol.

[Citation Needed] That is, if you don't use extremely inneficient sources like corn.

There are over sixty stations in North America and hundreds more are in the planning stages.

So this is not wishful thinking.

The only place to get ethanol now is in the Corn belt and it's just as much as gasoline.

WOW, Over 60 stations, wow!! That's like what, one for each state??

NASA's say's they can make hydrogen in quantity for 75 cents a kilogram.There is enough hydrogen produced in the US right now to power 26 MILLION cars.

Talk is cheap, (NASA should) show me the hidrogen.

There is NO WAY to get to 80% below 1990 CO2 emissions by 2050 than hydrogen.

Yes, there is, if you use renewable sources of carbon.

Recent studies show that producing ethanol is a wash when you take the entire process into consideration. You're not saving on CO2 or other greenhouse gas emissions.

Yeah, numbers say that when people who do the math think gasoline gets out of the well, refines itself and floats magically to the gas pump.

Lastly, I have to reiterate, there are a multitude of ways to produce hydrogen.It's the most abundant element in the universe.

Then do it, cost effectively. "Most abundant element" is moot, since most of it is not in the H2 form. Silicon is also very abundant but it's a pain in the behind to purify and be used in computers.

I look forward to your thoughts on this.

I think you have to stop drinking the kool-aid.
Brazil runs on ethanol, have you ever been there? Well, I live there and drive an ethanol powered car. France is mostly powered by nuclear, have you ever been there?

Well, I have. It's very easy to lie and deceive with math.

Re:Still not..... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029199)

I think etanol may be a better solution since no matter how you will manufacture the hydrogen you'll still need to put in energy in the process, and that energy has to come somewhere so it's not as simple as some idiots would think that we can just burn the hydrogen, get water and lots of free energy ..

With etanol atleast the actual production of the carbohydrates (but also the uhm, "yeasting"?) is manufactured without us putting in any energy since the sun does that for us.

So as long as we don't produce the hydrogen by using renewable energy sources and it's more efficient than growing crops and turning them into etanol I say the later one is 1-up.

I know your etanol production over there is supposed to consume more energy than you get from the etanol though (but I can't see how it have to), which kinda suck but considering current hydrolysis efficiency I guess hydrogen is even worse.

In any case, the best solution is obviously to consume less energy in the first place.

Re:Still not..... (2, Insightful)

Night64 (1175319) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029205)

... Still not economically viable, but hopefully continued research in hydrogen will replace the hype about plant based ethanol, which is not really a solution (because we need to eat corn, etc).

Despite what some farmers want you to think, there ate plenty of ways to make biofuel other than corn. Soy, rapeseed, jatropha, mahua, mustard, flax, sunflower, palm oil, hemp, field pennycress, pongamia pinnata and algae are some examples. In Brazil we use sugar cane since 1978 with great success, and flex fuel engines now have 50% market share of the vehicle fleet (excluding diesel-powered engines).

re You eat green goo? (1)

jelizondo (183861) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029229)

Ethanol can be obtained from a myriad sources, not only corn and sugarcane. It can be obtained from algae [popularmechanics.com] for example. Not cheap yet but hydrogen fuel cells aren't cheap either.

Re:Still not..... (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 5 years ago | (#27030623)

plant based ethanol is not bad in itself. As you stated though, using plants we use for food or food stock to product ethanol is a problem. IMO, using corn was all a scam by the Bush/Cheney/Oil industry to delay even longer any meaningful reduction in oil usage. Or else they are really really really dumb and did not have a clue that removing corn from the food supply would increase food costs. IMO.

LoB

The big problems with this (2, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028629)

IANAC but the article sounds like it's another way of oxidising Aluminium. I can see this being very impractical for a few reasons. Main one it's incredibly hard to store aluminium in a way where it won't oxidise, especially as this would work would need it to be powdered and without that layer of oxidised aluminium on the top, it's incredibly reactive and dangerous.

You're then left with a large pile of Oxidised aluminium which I don't believe has any use apart from the production of 'pure' aluminium (which requires lots of electricity). Ultimately I can't see this offering much benefit over existing methods of hydrogen production

Re:The big problems with this (1)

bakishi (1489485) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028713)

you right, the fact that Al and water produce hydrogen is not new at all. what's interesting is that they manage to maximize it by using different shapes of molecules. actually, it's not that interesting... :/

Re:The big problems with this (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029163)

I can see this being very impractical for a few reasons. Main one it's incredibly hard to store aluminium in a way where it won't oxidise, especially as this would work would need it to be powdered

Which is probably more use for making rocket fuel

and without that layer of oxidised aluminium on the top, it's incredibly reactive and dangerous.

An oxide layer typically protects the metal. It's a combination of reactive metal and inert oxide, thus under normal conditions you have what appears to be a quite inert metal.

You're then left with a large pile of Oxidised aluminium which I don't believe has any use apart from the production of 'pure' aluminium (which requires lots of electricity).

Electrolysis of water would probably require considerably less electricity. Since electrolysis of alumina requires it to be in a liquid state.

Re:The big problems with this (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029265)

The article doesn't really give details - it could be an interesting idea if they have a highly efficient method of producing the desired clusters in a very high density - and oxidizing Aluminum to generate pure hydrogen is at least novel.

An efficient recycling step would make this interesting for widespread use - without that it does seem like just a novelty.

and round and round we go (3, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029643)

It's just so entertaining to watch people find "free energy" in some form or another, by consuming some commonly available thing to produce energy, all the while completely ignoring the energy required to make the consumable.

Someone once described to me a process by which you use electrolysis to create hydrogen from water, and then burn that to create electricity, the surplus of which you can then use to create more hydrogen. (and you can even improve your yield by using the pure oxygen you are getting as a byproduct when creating the hydrogen!) And water is the free fuel! *SMACK*

The truth about hydrogen (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27028709)

Gaius Baltar is a Java programmer.

Grant Money (5, Insightful)

Anenome (1250374) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028765)

Smells like someone's grant is about to run out. Solution: the press-release, stir things up a little, generate some news and attention, it's a common way to generate hype, interest, etc. As has been pointed out, they won't solve the fact that the aluminum in the process is not merely catalytic, but used up by the process. Little thing called oxidation. If only they had a bit MORE MONEY to solve the problem... for the next 30 years or so, put their kids through college, yada, yada ;P

If you ever found a way to separate water into its constituent molecules at room temperature, no energy input needed, no chemical input needed, etc., you'd have just solved the world's energy problems for all time.

Re:Grant Money (1)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028945)

Not to mention having violated the Law of Conservation of Energy.

Re:Grant Money (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27029129)

Yeah, well, laws were meant to be broken.

Re:Grant Money (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029141)

Perhaps aluminum oxide in a finely granulated form could be reformed by solar heat. These scientists may have found a small step in a difficult problem.

epf?! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27028769)

another cunting man walking. It's BSD man4ged to make others what 7o reaper Nor do the These early

Re:epf?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27028921)

I haven't been to cunting in ages!

Aw jeez, hydrogen AGAIN? (5, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028771)

Yes, three times the energy density of gasoline by mass but only one third the energy density by volume (and that's for liquid hydrogen).

Yes, fuel cells can be three times as efficient as burning gasoline, but it takes 2.5 times as much energy to make a hydrogen fuel cell than you'll ever get out of it over its lifetime. Where's that energy coming from? Milking invisible pink unicorns?

Ford has dropped development of hydrogen cars in favour of going straight to all electric.

Hydrogen is over before it even begun. It's less efficient than electric by any measure, and if you're betting on a big breakthrough (this isn't it) then the smart money is on capacitors (powered by wind, wave, solar, geothermal), not some magic leap forward in hydrogen production or fuel cell construction. At this point, it really is an academic proposition.

Re:Aw jeez, hydrogen AGAIN? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27028797)

Obama has his head up his ass on this one AGAIN.

Re:Aw jeez, hydrogen AGAIN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27028801)

What about direct combustion of hydrogen? BMW has one.

IIRC they even figured out how to make it run on Diesel. (might have been other way around, ie. make a diesel engine run on hydrogen.)

Of course there is still the question of how to make, distribute and store the hydrogen...

Look up Raymond Royal Rife on resonant frequency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27028913)

On resonant frequency of matter itself, he discovered that he could break the bonds of a molecule by electromagnetically propogating the inverse energy of the bonds itself. This works into the equation of an efficient mode to bring hydrogen and oxygen from its bonding into water, allowing it to be combusted in its elemental form. Raymond was the man to use this same idea to destroy virus; he's also the first man on this planet to see a virus under a microsoft, which he invented the Scanning Electron Microscope to accomplish in that regard.

Don't trust the crapflood on Slashdot you see here. I don't know what got into people but it stinks. This technology has been used already to run combustion engines in overunity implementations known as Water Electrolysis or another called Joe cell. Water Electrolysis utilized stainless steal alloy 316L (that alloy specifically prevents degradation of ferrite into the water) to break water electrochemically into 2H and O at anywhere from 4ampere to 20ampere on 12volts. Joe Cell was the opposite in that regard, "negatively charging" a cyclinder of water at 500 milliampere of 12volts for a couple days and then allowing the vacuum of an intake manifold to a combustion engine break the bond of water while in its unstable "negatively charged" state Effectively Joe Cell is nothing more than a homebrew electrolytic capacitor that uses water as electrolyte, and there are many more implementations throughout the better half of the primitive countries where people found that replacing the original cathodes and electrodes in a deep-cycle car battery with a stainless steel (again, 316L is the cleanest and most durable).

Whenever I post this information on my /. account I either get flamed by a pretend science nerd that has never achieved this goal but insists on throwing mere theory of Thermodynamics Law up into the air, and others just mod me down. Slashdot is become a cess-pool in that regard.

Re:Look up Raymond Royal Rife on resonant frequenc (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27029103)

Ok, I looked him up on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. You probably didn't, because:

he discovered that he could break the bonds of a molecule by electromagnetically propogating the inverse energy of the bonds itself

Wiki: Rife's claims could not be independently replicated, and active scientific interest in the devices had dissipated by the 1950s.

he's also the first man on this planet to see a virus under a microscope

Wiki: These 'small turquoise bodies' are now known to have been the cells of the bacterium Salmonella typhi. The limitations of light microscopes [wikipedia.org] are such that even the best resolution of a conventional microscope (at roughly 200 nanometers) is inadequate to visualize most viruses.

he invented the Scanning Electron Microscope to accomplish in that regard.

Wiki: The first SEM image was obtained by Max Knoll [wikipedia.org]. (About Rife: The observations were made though a specially designed optical microscope, only five of which were ever constructed.)

Don't trust the crapflood on Slashdot you see here.

Pot, meet kettle. Can't bother with the rest of your post.

Re:Aw jeez, hydrogen AGAIN? (2, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028811)

agreed. electric has the distribution grid already there. it wins.

i'm still not jumping in until they refine ultra capcaitors to the point i can get 500km out of them per charge. once that happens, sweet.

Why? (2, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028927)

Seriously, why? I am assuming that you do not commute more than 100 km each day, and are not off-roading. So why do you need 500 km? A 100 would do nicely for 95% of the world.

A super cap can take the power as fast as you deliver it. Personally, I suspect that new highend power stations would be develop for this, so that if doing a 100km/charge, then a fill up would likely take under a minute.

What is FAR more important is that car companies MUST come up with a STANDARD HIGH-END plug AND way to plug in? IOW, the smart thing is for the industry to figure a plug that is used by all the cars, and preferably allows for automatic hook-up (car IDs self, open cap, robotic arm moves power cable in and recharges). That is why Musk really should hook up with several other small car companies and set the standard NOW. Keep in mind that a HIGH-END plug is very different than the house plug. Ideally I would put it on the back of the car, along with a trailer hitch. That would allow a person to pull a trailer with power to move across the country.

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029067)

There's something that's never addressed with electric cars: heating and air conditioning.

Whilst you could sweat it out in a baking hot car, you can't drive with misted up or frozen wind shield. Heating and cooling both use huge amounts of power

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

ngileadi (966224) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029215)

[citation needed]
Do you have any figures about this? Mobile air conditioners with COP of 2 or so are being developed these days (IPCC/TEAP special report, page 306 [www.mnp.nl]), and I can't imagine the energy consumption is significant compared to the actual transport, unless the temperature differences are extreme. I'm willing to be proven wrong, though.

The Peak Mileage Fallacy (0, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029531)

The problem with electric cars is in the claim that you only need to commute 40 miles a day for a charge. That may be true, but in America, people also use their cars for the occasional family errands and during those days it is rather reasonable to drive much more than that in a day. Having a car limited by design to 40 miles is just not enough.

Tesla is a ponzi scam. Musk is just basically announced a new car and taking deposits on to fund the production of another car that he already has deposits on. His CFO quit when this decision was taken.

Re:The Peak Mileage Fallacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27029783)

What? I live in Menlo Park where Tesla has a very real dealership with very real cars that are quite really driving around all over the place.

A Ponzi Scam? The company has a small ownership base and is deliberately slowing down the production of their Model S so as to not dilute said ownership base.

They make a real product that is serving a real market right now. It's an exclusive one. But they're showing that it's possible. I see fully electric cars on the road almost every day. Tesla is very real and very serious and I think they'll be successful in mass producing electric vehicles sooner than you think.

Re:Aw jeez, hydrogen AGAIN? (3, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028841)

Hydrogen is over before it even begun. It's less efficient than electric by any measure, and if you're betting on a big breakthrough (this isn't it) then the smart money is on capacitors (powered by wind, wave, solar, geothermal), not some magic leap forward in hydrogen production or fuel cell construction. At this point, it really is an academic proposition.

Electricity needs a storage medium. Batteries are not there yet. Capacitors may never be there.

For large scale energy storage, pumping water up against gravity is a good thing. A dam of some type. Hydrogen can be good for small scale things.

I think steam electrolysis of hydrogen will be a good way to go. All you need is a mirrored parabolic dish. No earth-made energy to use.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-temperature_electrolysis [wikipedia.org]

Re:Aw jeez, hydrogen AGAIN? (2, Interesting)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029017)

Electricity needs a storage medium.

My power outlet works just fine without a hydrogen tank in my house. Now with solar panels, windmills and whatever it might be different, but thats not where most of our power comes from for a long while to come. The big problem I see with hydrogen is that I just don't see how it would be more effective building a completly new infrastructure to ship hydrogen around, when we already have a perfectly fine infrastructure to move electricity around. Hydrogen also doesn't seem to be more efficient then latest battery technology. So where exactly is the big advantage in hydrogen? A electric car that I can just plug into the power outlet seems a lot more convenient to me then one into which I have to inject hydrogen.

I don't really know much about the topic, so I could be completly wrong, but a little of google, didn't really brought up all that many good arguments for hydrogen, but quite a few one for the opposite [calameo.com].

Re:Aw jeez, hydrogen AGAIN? (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028867)

Where's that energy coming from? Milking invisible pink unicorns?

Close.
Solar, wind, waves, hydro and combinations of all those.

Unless the problem is that someone would have to actually work a little before getting essentially free energy sellable to masses?

Re:Aw jeez, hydrogen AGAIN? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029845)

The gp's point was that it doesn't make any sense to insert hydrogen. There isn't a step where it helps very much, and inefficiencies soak up a lot of energy. If you use the electric grid and batteries (instead of hydrogen), you can sell a lot more of the energy to the masses.

Re:Aw jeez, hydrogen AGAIN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27028875)

Perhaps you are missing the point. Potentially the production of hydrogen from aluminum is a way to get potable power for when petrol runs out. As far as I know it is very difficult to store hydrogen, and I suspect that the efficiency of batteries is not very high. I wonder what the energy efficiency of storing electricity as aluminum is compared to batteries. ( I have not mentioned the production of alcohol as a portable store of energy.
Ian

Re:Aw jeez, hydrogen AGAIN? (2, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029505)

Where's that energy coming from? Milking invisible pink unicorns?

The unicorns aren't pink, they're blue [doe.gov], and unfortunately they're rather large.

Seriously, this (Al powder) isn't an energy generation solution, it's an energy distribution solution. Most (populated) areas have both water and oxygen in the air, so if you can get the water to this powder and get hydrogen back... that could be very interesting.

If you look at the overall efficiency of the fossilized oil cycle, starting with solar input and running through geologic time as a major part of the refining process toward becoming a portable fuel, recycling oxidized aluminum is pretty damn attractive.

Re:Aw jeez, hydrogen AGAIN? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27030161)

Seriously, this (Al powder) isn't an energy generation solution, it's an energy distribution solution. Most (populated) areas have both water and oxygen in the air, so if you can get the water to this powder and get hydrogen back... that could be very interesting.

So, an energy distribution system that gives you, say, 1 kg of H2 for every 9 kg of aluminum (not counting the container, the piping, things like that). If you can ship in that much much aluminum, why not just ship in that much hydrogen instead?

Alchemy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27028791)

One step closer to the goal!

the only possible application? (3, Insightful)

Bloater (12932) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028891)

To use water and aluminium as energy storage. We already have a pretty good global aluminium infrastructure.

If water could be combined with aluminium to produce hydrogen on demand, then you refuel by replacement of the aluminium oxide waste with fresh aluminium and refilling the water tank.

Then you still need a better method to convert aluminium oxide to aluminium - but here's the great thing about this research. Better ways to convert in one direction usually lead to better ways to go the other way too (eg, microdots convert electricity to light better, but also the other way round too).

Bio-chemical (1)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028893)

All methods by which man-made hydrogen is produced today use more "usable" energy than results in the hydrogen. What we need to do is use hard to use energy like solar, geotherm, or something else.

*all* energy production comes from the conversion of hard to use energy into an easier to use form. Solar power is an inefficient means by which light is converted to electricity. Plants convert light very efficiently and produce sugar. We then use yeast to break that down into alcohol. Unfortunately that also produces CO2 as well.

I would bet that large floating sterling engines could use the temperature differential of the sea to produce electricity. That's one idea, anyway.

Article is just wrong... (1)

Wdi (142463) | more than 5 years ago | (#27028899)

Of course this effects still depends on the electronic properties of aluminum. Atoms of the same element in different cluster positions often have markedly different electronic environments and properties - this has been extensively studied for many small cluster systems. And if the relative orientation of suitably partially charged atoms is right, interesting effects can be observed.

And the other comments are right, too: This is absolutely not an energy-effective way to produce hydrogen.

not new (1)

zakeria (1031430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029197)

people have been doing this for years how is this news? we done that in school 25 years ago? old science wtf?

Commander Jameson would... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27029235)

...just open his fuel scoops and fly close to the sun.

Interesting process at Purdue (1)

enricohale (1411063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029253)

Jerry Woodall, from Purdue, gave a talk at SNS's FiRe conference in San Diego about this process http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2007a/070515WoodallHydrogen.html [purdue.edu]. As many others have said, essentially, aluminum is a not-bad way to store electricity which can later be used to crack water. I agree with what others have said, that fuel cells are not a particularly good solution for transportation, but if we're ever going to do fuel cells, this aluminum dodge is the best trick i've seen for carting around the means to produce hydrogen.

Naiyeel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27029537)

Like china we have to think in BIOGAS, there is a lot of shit to convert to energy.

There ain't no free lunch (3, Informative)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029595)

This is not an article about making Hydrogen cheaply or efficiently, it's an article about an unusual chemical reaction, one of whose byproducts is Hydrogen.

You cant get something for nothing. For each Hydrogen atom let off, you have to spend an atom of Aluminum. Aluminum weighs 27 times as much as Hydrogen, so for every kilogram of Aluminum you burn up you get at most 38 grams of Hydrogen. Aluminum costs almost a dollar a kilo. That makes the Hydrogen cost at least $27 a Kilo. The market price for Hydrogen is around $2 a Kilo, so this process costs about 13 times too much.
 

Re:There ain't no free lunch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27030211)

"it's an article about an unusual chemical reaction, one of whose byproducts is Hydrogen"

sorry mate but is nothing unusual about oxidation

you can do a very similar thing with potassium or sodium, they just happen to be more reactive and so you don't have to arrange the atoms into "clusters" or whatever the fuck the article is banging on about

Aluminum as an energy storage mechanism (0)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029629)

OK, this is cool, you can now fuel your fuel cells with Aluminum and water.

Imagine stopping in at the fueling station and trading in your Aluminum Oxide for a fresh supply of Aluminum and filling up with water. The Aluminum Oxide gets shipped off to a recovery plant that relies on solar, wind, geothermal, or other non-carbon fuels. No more dependence on Foreign Oil.

Some slight problems:
1) The world's supply of aluminum may not be enough to roll this out worldwide.
2) Electric or plug-in-hybrid cars achieve the same goals without needing a new fuel infrastructure
3) insert additional problems here

power, not energy (1)

rlseaman (1420667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029773)

We don't have an energy crisis, it's a power crisis.

As others have said, the question is energy transport as well as generation. It is very unlikely that a single solution will do the job. These debates about looking for a single replacement for gasoline are puerile. The real point is that gasoline has never been a single solution to all transportation needs. That we continue to treat it this way is just a testament to the effectiveness of the oil industries PR flacks (starting back with Standard Oil).

Surely there will be niches for several variations of hydrogen, ethanol and electric transport as well as CNG and the others? In particular, most driving is local. The tradeoffs for powering local traffic are very different than the tradeoffs for long distance transport.

Insulting chemists for having discovered new ways to do chemistry is really pretty silly. Folks who don't understand the difference between the technique described and electrolysis might want to demonstrate a bit of humility when posting.

Not news (4, Interesting)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029859)

Come on. You can generate hydrogen by dumping aluminium foil in either sodium hydroxide (cheap plumbing cleaner) or in water containing minute amounts of HgCl2 acting as a catalyst. This is elementary and was known for decades. Those guys just found out that if they use insanely fine aluminium powder they don't need sodium hydroxide or mercuric chloride anymore. But this gets us nowhere, as we still need the aluminium, and making this insanely fine powder isn't free (both financially and energetically). The immediate practical value of this work in the field of energy storage is near zero. The only thing going for it is that the authors know how to generate interest.

An earlier report of hydrogen from aluminum (2)

electricprof (1410233) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029911)

Hydrogen production was reported earlier from cutting aluminum underwater: Uehara, K., Takeshita, H., and Kotaka, H. (2002). Hydrogen gas generation in the wet cutting of aluminum and its alloys. Journal of Materials Processing Technology, 127:174-177. While it certainly is not an efficient way to generate hydrogen in mass quantities, if you already need to cut aluminum for some other purpose (e.g., construction or repair, especially underwater) you can recover some hydrogen as a small side benefit. The same reaction may also lead to a useful sensing mechanism in the future.

What are the inputs? Does It Scale? Cold Fusion? (2, Funny)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029971)

This has the potential to be big but of course the valid questions are not mentioned, such as what are the inputs to get this hydrogen and does it scale. Still sounds rather Cold Fusiony...

Lye: Just as good (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 5 years ago | (#27029995)

Put some lye and aluminum foil in a big bowl of water. Once the aluminum is consumed and you have witnessed a whole bunch of hydrogen come off, don't put any more lye into the water, but do put some more aluminum foil into it. Watch it get consumed too as it produces more hydrogen. Repeat until you see how silly TFA is.

LOL (1)

Chih (1284150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27030131)

This is an interesting trick, but it not a useful tech at this time. Although I will say this is the first time EVER where I thought a H2 energy culture was even remotely possible. This is still very wasteful, though. (See comments on Al refining...) As for ethanol, I still don't understand why we don't use hemp instead of corn.

Re:LOL (1)

Socguy (933973) | more than 5 years ago | (#27030429)

...I still don't understand why we don't use hemp instead of corn.

HEMP??? For the love of God, WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN! ;)

Re:LOL (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27030823)

Hemp advocates like to point out that the plant used for industrial hemp is an entirely different one from Marijuana. Strangely, though, every hemp advocate I've ever met was a marijuana smoker.
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